The heart of your family home—your kitchen!—needs a reno, but who should you entrust with this critical space? Reno Assistance's Jason Pagluica has some tips to help you get cooking with the right kitchen renovator.
First, be clear about what you want—not just how much you want to spend. While price is certainly something to keep in mind, make sure you also research materials and styles. Check out showrooms and materials—and feel and handle them. Marble looks amazing, but chips easily; stainless steel is chic, but showcases tiny fingerprints marvellously! No contractor can read your mind, so you need to determine your style, materials, and budget. Pagluica suggests, "Get an idea of what materials you want, and their price tags. From there, you'll be better able to figure out who your contractor should be."
Once style and budget are settled, Pagluica advises: "Look for someone with a good portfolio; how long have they been doing kitchens? What's their speciality? If they've only ever done basements, don't be their first kitchen reno! Kitchens touch everything: electrics, plumbing, and potentially structural engineering if you remove a wall for expansion."
KITCHEN RENO CHECKLIST
- For a kitchen remodel, you'll likely need: a designer specializing in kitchens
- A cabinetmaker to manufacture your custom cabinets
- An electrician who can move or install electrical outlets, and handle lighting needs
- A plumber to move or connect the sink
- A tiler for your sink backsplash and kitchen floor
- A countertop manufacturer for stone countertops
A good general contractor is needed to coordinate all the tradespeople required to turn your kitchen renovation project into reality—so make sure your general contractor is top of their game! A licenced general contractor has the experience and skills to complete the job themselves, or to delegate tasks to other licenced professionals. Some general contractors have additional qualifications, (master plumber or electrician, for example), which can result in savings if your reno requires a lot of that particular kind of work.
Many experienced contractors will often have a list of referral-clients you can speak with, so don't be shy. Prepare a list of questions before you call, and feel free to ask tough, honest questions—including if workers were tidy and respectful, if their project was completed on time (or why not), and if the contractor respected client budgets, taste, and boundaries. If something seems ‘off' about their answers, make a mental note of it and follow up later on in the conversation.
Get around 3-4 estimates; if one is a lot higher—or a lot lower—it might mean that that particular kitchen renovator isn't on the up and up. What seems like great savings now, might in the long run mean costly repairs to slapdash work or substandard materials. Licencing is essential, and every province has their own combination of apprenticeships, certification and licencing. Check with the Better Business Bureau or regional consumer protection organization to ensure your contractor-to-be has no complaints filed against them. Want to make sure you're in good hands? Give Reno Assistance a call—it's a free service that connects homeowners with qualified, trustworthy contractors and tradespeople for kitchen renovations or any other renovation project. Reno Assistance will do all the licensing research for you, so you can focus on making that kitchen of yours a dream come true!
Lastly, don't forget kitchen renovations are often a major undertaking: "One thing you should do is prepare to have your life uprooted for a while, because you'll be living on a construction site. A full kitchen gutting and remodelling will take about 2-3 weeks, with no kitchen access," advises Pagluica.